The Pep Episodes XXV

In this edition of the Pep Episodes: Pep Guardiola is leaving Bayern Munich at the end of the season. He won’t leave as a popular hero. It will be the end of a fascinating, stimulating relationship that never became the big love.

This article is part of a partnership with Grup 14, an organization dedicated to Futbol Club Barcelona and supporters around the world. The Pep Episodes are created by Alex Truica and originally published at Grup14.com.

His long-awaited decision was finally announced, and it wasn’t a surprising one. Pep Guardiola will leave Bayern Munich at the end of the season – over the last couple of weeks, different media outlets already broke the news about his future, for example Spanish radio station Onda Cero, the newspaper Marca and the German magazine kicker. Bayern simply couldn’t keep the secret anymore, on Sunday they finally made it public – with a simple press release. Bayern’s chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge commented: “We are grateful to Pep Guardiola for everything he has given our club since 2013. I am convinced that Pep and our team will now work even more intensively towards achieving our major sporting goals – especially as it is now confirmed that Pep is to leave FC Bayern.”

Guardiola didn’t say anything (as usual), he left for his Christmas Holidays on Sunday for his home in Catalonia. So the much courted coach didn’t explain his decision, but others did. “He came over to me two weeks ago at our Christmas party and told me that he was looking for a new challenge. He was almost apologetic. I’m not disappointed in him,” Rummenigge told newspaper BILD. Asked whether Guardiola said where he’ll work next, Rummenigge replied: “I think I know where he is going. But I would like to leave the announcement to him or his new employer.” Almost everyone believes that it is going to be Manchester City. Besides that, many wonder why Guardiola didn’t want to renew his contract. His biographer Marti Perarnau revealed at his blog for Eurosport: “If Guardiola believes that, in his respective environment, he personally has achieved the best; that Bayern plays just as he had wished; that the team is merged into a collective that in the future he hardly would be able to improve – then he will fulfill his contract and leave Munich in June 2016.”

In other words: His project at Bayern is done. At least that seems to be what Guardiola thinks and feels. The German media interpreted it the same way, calling Guardiola a “project manager” and “business consultant”. Weekly newspaper Die Zeit commented: “Guardiola loves to win, but he doesn’t love any club besides FC Barcelona. He manages, ends his project and then leaves the place after three years of attrition.” So is he just a cold blooded manager? Marti Perarnau says: “I think he’s in love with players of Bayern, and this is the true love.”

As a matter of fact, Guardiola didn’t become tired of saying how much he loves his players. He repeated this week in week out – pretty much to the boredom of German Journalists. Nobody could tell anymore if he’s just praising them to the skies or if he’s being honest. “He’s not just a good manager, he’s a brilliant one,” says Marcel Reif, chief football reporter at TV-station Sky Germany, “but he’s socially incompatible as well. All the supersuper, all the love – he’s throwing superlatives at us journalists like you throw bales of cloth to kittens in these internet videos.” Hence Guardiola wasn’t honest, didn’t take the journalists, the media, seriously.

Truthfully, he apparently never got close to the people here in Germany, besides his players and maybe his staff and bosses at Bayern (except the doctors, with whom he reportedly had ongoing fights about the recovery of players).

Guardiola never gave a single interview to anybody just like in his four year spell at Barça. Journalists still have reservations regarding him and his work. They never understood him, at least most of them didn’t. Süddeutsche Zeitung put it this way: “Pep Guardiola is something like a very beautiful, very erotic, but very bitchy lover you are looking at proudly every morning in bed. You never know in which mood she is going to wake up.” Even Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) was using this kind of metaphor to describe Guardiola and his job in Bavaria: “The end of a fascinating, stimulating relationship that never became the big love.” Die Zeit furthermore noted: “Just like many Germans still have strange feelings about his footballing ideas, he’s entitled to feel misunderstood by Bayern.” Misunderstood – among other things because they let go Toni Kroos, a typical Guardiola player, and then offered him to sign Sami Khedira. This summer, they signed Arturo Vidal, another box to box runner and fighter – but not an orchestrator and artist in the centre of the pitch. Not exactly a typical midfielder according to Guardiola’s taste.

Meanwhile, Bayern’s sports director Matthias Sammer claimed Guardiola had been treated unfairly by the media. “In Germany we always have the feeling that when somebody is getting so much praise, then there has got to be another extreme and they’ve got to be brought down somehow,” Sammer said at TV-Station Sky Germany and praised the Catalan: “What he has achieved, for German football, is extraordinary and we’ve got to recognize that.” Accordingly, the headline of FAZ ran: “Defeat for the Bundesliga”. The question is: Does the majority even recognize that?

The Pep Episodes is a weekly column about the adventures of Pep Guardiola in Munich exclusively written for Grup14 by Alex Truica, a freelance sports journalist and editor. You can follow him on Twitter .

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